How to Password Protect a Word Document

You can lock and unlock Word docs with passwords to secure them

Choosing to lock a Microsoft Word document with a password is a safe and easy way to make sure that its contents are only seen by the people you want.

Here’s how to unlock Word documents and the best way to remove passwords from Word documents when you forget what your secret code is.

Instructions in this article apply to Microsoft Word for Office 365, Word 2019, Word 2016, and Word 2013.

How to Lock a Word Document With a Password

Protecting a Microsoft Word document with a password is pretty easy due to the fact that the program itself contains its own free password feature.

Here’s how to use it to lock your doc.

  1. Open the Word document that you want to protect.

    Password protecting a Microsoft Word document in Windows 10.

    You can also add a password to a new Word file as soon as you create it if you like.

  2. Click File.

  3. Click Protect Document.

    Password protecting a Microsoft Word document in Windows 10.
  4. Click Encrypt with Password.

    Password protecting a Microsoft Word document in Windows 10.
  5. Enter your password into the field.

    Password protecting a Microsoft Word document in Windows 10.

    Your password will be hidden from you as you type it so be very careful with what you type.

  6. Click OK.

    Password protecting a Microsoft Word document in Windows 10.
  7. You’ll now need to enter the same password you just created a second time. This is done to ensure that you know the password that you’re setting and that you didn’t make a spelling mistake the first time.

    Password protecting a Microsoft Word document in Windows 10.

    If you haven’t already, write down the file name and its password in a separate file that’s backed up to the cloud in case you forget it later on. Microsoft OneNote or Evernote are ideal for situations like this.

  8. Click OK.

    Password protecting a Microsoft Word document in Windows 10.
  9. Save your file as usual.

    Password protecting a Microsoft Word document in Windows 10.

Your Microsoft Word document will now require your password to be opened.

How to Unlock Word Documents With Passwords

If you’re sending a locked Word doc to a friend or colleague, you don’t need to worry about teaching them how to manage password protected files as the Word document will automatically ask them for the password as soon as they open it.

Microsoft Word document password field.

Likewise if someone ever sends you a Word document with a password. When you open the file, the program will prompt you to enter the password straight away without any other action needing to be taken.

Even though you’re the person who added the password to the Word document, the file will still ask you for the password every time you open it as well.

How to Reset or Remove a Password From Word Documents

You can change the password or remove it entirely any time you want but you will need access to the file to do so.

You need the current password to change or delete it.

Here’s what you need to do to edit the Microsoft Word document’s password.

  1. Open the Word doc as usual and click File.

    Changing a password in Microsoft Word on Windows 10.
  2. Click Protect Document.

    Changing a password in a protected Microsoft Word document file in Windows 10.
  3. Click Encrypt with Password.

    Changing a password in a protected Microsoft Word document file in Windows 10.
  4. Delete the hidden characters in the text field and click OK to remove password from the Word document.

    Changing a password in a protected Microsoft Word document file in Windows 10.

Enter a new password in the field and click OK to change the Word doc’s password.

What to Do When You’ve Forgotten the Word Doc’s Password

If you’ve forgotten the password for your Word document and you can’t find your record of it that you wrote down when you created it, there is still a way to gain access to the file’s contents.

In the past, users used to be able to gain access to protected Word documents by renaming the file extension and deleting phrases from the file’s code but Microsoft has since increased their security and the encryption used is now much harder to crack.

To unlock Word documents that are protected by a password, you’ll need to use a brute-force password recovery program. Unfortunately, many of these programs contain malware and require a payment to use. A lot of them also no longer work since Microsoft increased their security.

A good free option is the Password Find website which can unlock protected files directly on the site and doesn’t require the installation of any suspicious software. The unlocking process is also completely free and easy to use.

  1. Open your preferred web browser and go to this page on the Password Find website.

    Accessing a password protected Microsoft Word document online.
  2. Click Browse and select the password protected Word document that you want to access.

  3. Click Next Step.

    Accessing a password protected Microsoft Word document online.
  4. Click the bullet point next to Remove password.

    Accessing a password protected Microsoft Word document online.

    This option will give you access to the Word file’s contents and is free. The Find password option requires payment and will tell you the password.

  5. Click Next Step.

  6. After several minutes, the process should complete and you will be provided with the option to download the password-free document or view it online as a Google Doc.

    Accessing a password protected Microsoft Word document online.

You can also click Delete to remove the file from the site’s servers.